18 September 2011

I’ve never heard it said that all roads lead to Dubrovnik. Rome maybe. In the UK there are about a zillion London Roads headed to the country’s capital.

And I can confirm that very few roads lead to Dubrovnik, especially from Bosnia and Hercegovina (BIH). The paper map showed there was one from Trebinje but there was no chance of me finding it. I’m blind as a bat without the GPS. And road signs were scarce. My directional instincts failed me completely. I really needed to go south west.

This is the way I needed to go – looks easy now!

And there is some tough geography here also as I soon found out. There is a mountain range that pretty much forms the border between BIH and Croatia. And very few opportunities to cross the range. It’s good how most borders in Europe are based on geographical features like rivers, lakes and mountain ranges.

But I could have done without this now. North west just made me follow the coast but on the wrong side of the coastal range following a massive valley that may have once been a major river to the coast. Now it was agricultural land. The scenery was spectacular though.

The map showed one way over to Croatia and the coast but not a major road. Then just a short distance south east to Dubrovnik. It was getting dark so I turned off.

This is how I’d hoped to get to Dubrovnik

It was a narrow road and clearly not a major thoroughfare. I reached the border and stopped to get my passport, green card and registration papers which were accepted by the Croation border police.

As I waited I glanced at my petrol gauge. It had been a while since I’d passed a petrol station. Not much left but enough to get me to the coast I figured.

The Border Police returned with my papers and informed me that I could not cross here. I explained my situation re low fuel and was informed this was not their problem. It was now dark and I did not fancy backtracking on a narrow road with a chance of running out of fuel.

I told them I would stay there and wait until the morning’s first light and then head back the way I had come. For some reason this was not possible and one of the Border Police started to physically drag me back to my bike, ordering me to turn it around and leave immediately. He would not return my papers until I pointed the bike in the opposite direction.

Courtesy of Google – I never made it through those boom gates into Croatia

It was now almost 1930 and I’d been going all day having started riding at 1000, with only a 30 minute break on top of a mountain range in Albania for an espresso (they make the best espresso’s in Albania). I was hot and tired. I’d had no breakfast and no lunch. It was now dark.

I could have done with another 5 minutes to make a plan but this was not possible. I pushed the bike until it was pointed east and on receipt of my papers I started to slowly backtrack not knowing how far it was to the nearest petrol station or if I would make it that far.

This was not a situation I had planned for on my Turkey motorcycle tour.  This was not ideal …